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Tips for Avoiding or Resolving an ATM Problem

ATMs in the United States handle more than 10 billion transactions a year, and the overwhelming majority go smoothly.  But sometimes things don’t go the way you want or expect.  Here are some problems that ATM users can encounter, plus tips for avoiding or resolving them.

"A thief is using my ATM card.”

ATM fraud can occur if a thief steals an existing ATM card or makes a counterfeit card, and obtains your personal identification number (PIN), which is needed to authorize transactions. 

To limit you liability for any losses, it’s important to immediately report the problem to you ATM card issuer.  The credit union may ask you to sign an affidavit or other notice of the theft. 

Important:  Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), if you report that your ATM card is lost or stolen within two business days after you realize your card is missing, your losses are limited to a maximum of $50 for any unauthorized use.  If you wait more than two business days to report a lost or stolen ATM card, your potential liability goes up significantly. 

Depending on the circumstances, if it is clear that you are an innocent victim of fraud and you promptly reported the loss or theft of the card or an unauthorized transaction, many banks will voluntarily hold you to no liability. 

“My credit union statement shows an incorrect amount for an ATM withdrawal.”

Always save your ATM receipts until you compare them to your monthly statement or you verify your transactions online.  Promptly report any error. 

“The ATM ate my card.”

This can happen if, for example, the card was defective or the credit union suspects it may be involved in some type of fraudulent activity.  Immediately contact the credit union.  Don’t expect to receive your original ATM card back – you’ll probably get a replacement card.  The process can occur fairly quickly if you notify the credit union immediately. 

“The machine cheated me.”

What should you do if the ATM gives you too little cash, or no cash at all, and the receipt says you got exactly what you asked for?  Immediately contact the credit union, even if the machine belongs to another financial institution or company (although it’s wise to alert that other entity, too, if possible.) 

Make sure to keep a record of the conversation.  It also never hurts to follow up in writing.  The next step is for the ATM’s owner to determine if the machine has too much or too little cash, and why.

“What happened to my deposit?”

When making a deposit at the ATM, record the transaction in your checkbook, including information about each check.  Keep the ATM receipt and verify the deposit by reviewing your account statement. 

If you believe some or all of your deposit was mishandled, immediately contact your credit union and follow up with a letter.  If a check is missing, you might have to ask the check issuer to stop payment. 

Also remember that deposited funds are not immediately available for you to withdraw; they will be subject to the credit union’s availability policy and federal schedules.

Article courtesy of FDIC Consumer News

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